“What on earth am I doing here” was the question all six Media Crew Members asked at one stage or another as they took on the task of being the race's eyes and ears for the outside world.
“The first few months I hated it,’’ said CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand MCM Hamish Hooper, who went on to claim the 10,000 euros prize from Inmarsat for the outstanding contribution over the course of the race.
It’s no secret that the former video editor suffered from seasickness, an affliction that made competing in the Volvo Ocean Race one of the hardest, yet ultimately rewarding things the Kiwi video editor has ever done.
“There’s something about the challenge and being a part of the team makes you stick around," he said. "Now it’s over I’m really glad I did.’’
During the 39,000 nautical mile ocean marathon the expert media men captured more than 4,000 high resolution images, recorded more than 300 audio interviews and connected sailors to more than 1,000 radio and TV interviews.
The crew used state-of-the-art equipment including five fixed and two hand-held custom built video cameras, still cameras and computers to beam high definition footage, images, audio and words back to shore via Inmarsat satellite technology.
The high-tech equipment captured some of the most iconic images and footage in the race’s 39-year-history including the Team Telefónica’s wave wipe-out in the Southern Ocean and CAMPER’s close encounter with a whale in Leg 7.
The MCMs also had domestic duties to tend to including cooking more than 3,000 meals, bailing tens of thousands of litres of water from the bilge and making too many cups of coffee and tea than they would ever like to remember.
But it's for their incredible technical and journalistic skills that the MCMs will be remembered as they were able to show the world the reality of life at the extreme -- the devastating raw emotion of breaking a mast on the opening night of racing that was enough to bring Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing skipper Ian to tears; the struggle on board PUMA during Leg 5 when they were forced to consider suspending racing to offload two injured crewmen and the elation of winning the 11th edition of the race when Groupama finished in Galway in July.
“Our vision is simple, it is true life stories told through relentless ocean racing,’’ said Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad, who competed in the 1993 race when onboard communication was first introduced.
Teams were given the choice between taking the media equipment or taking 200 kilograms of lead. “Half the fleet chose the lead,’’ he said. “Sailors thought the equipment was rubbish, that it slowed the boat down and took up space.
"Less than 20 years on, we have revolutionised the sport. We are now the only major sporting event in the world where our athletes communicate directly with the world from the racecourse."
Ireland’s TG4 Sports Editor Ronan O Coisdealbha said the ability to share the story of the world’s longest and toughest sporting event had been given a massive boost by the increase in onboard media presence.
O Coisdealbha recalled that during the 2001-02 Volvo the TV station would produce a monthly highlights package, in 2008/09 that increased to a weekly half-hour and in 2011-12 it made the “extraordinary” jump to daily footage and live coverage of in-port races and leg starts.
“They’ve made it so easy for broadcasters to tell the world about the achievements,’’ he said. “There are a lot of sporting events that haven’t seen this big picture yet. Volvo are leading the way.”
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